A few weeks ago I was able to take the Selected Functional Movement Assessment (www.sfma.com SFMA) course along with some other great local practitioners of varying disciplines. The SFMA and Functional Movement Systems (FMS www.functionalmovement.com) have become very popular in North America. While many of the ideas in this approach are not new, they have done a very good job in helping physical practitioners to quickly identify movement faults in patients and be able to provide treatment and exercise guidance in algorithmic format.
The SFMA basic protocols are relatively simple. It takes a clinician less than five minutes to help a patient attempt the initial movement screens. The person’s ability to complete these are basically scored on a pass/fail basis and with each movement that is not successfully completed, there are much more specific breakout movement screens that are used to narrow down the problem.
One of the main components of this course was to determine whether or not a patient’s underlying problem (which we all want to solve) fell into either a mobility problem; which can be helped through manual therapy; such as Active Release Techniques, manipulation and range of motion based exercise or a stability problem where a person’s ability to recruit and activate required muscle groups in order to correctly perform basic movements.
Once a stability problem is identified, one of the go to screens/exercises is assessing a person’s ability to roll over from front to back and back to front. This may seem ridiculous and simplistic but is actually an embedded neuro-developmental activity that many (if not most) adults lose the ability to properly do. The rolling activities are not unique to SFMA; as the DNS (Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization) approach has long used rolling and other inherent developmental activities such as crawling. Not being able to roll properly is a sign of improper muscle recruitment and firing sequences. The rolling is a basic movement that should be mastered before moving onto more complicated stability strengthening patterns.
Mastering rolling is not a one-time accomplishment either. You can lose the ability to roll and this may be brought to your attention by an increase in pain of an old, nagging injury. Checking your rolling and practicing it during a period of increased pain may help you synchronize your movement patterns again.
Getting a proper assessment using the SFMA protocol is very useful for athletes and weekend warriors as well as people who are in chronic pain. Learning how to roll is a great tool to have in your back pocket. I have attached two videos below that show front to back rolling and back to front.
Please consult a skilled rehabilitation practitioner (chiropractor or physical therapist) who is skilled in this approach to have yourself assessed with this approach.